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Charly Haley , Published March 31 2013

Farm in the Dell eyeing Moorhead location

MOORHEAD – A local branch of Farm in the Dell International wants to create a farm here to be a place for people with developmental disabilities to live and work.

Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley is looking for a property of at least 20 acres within a 10-mile radius of Moorhead, said Gary Streich, a board member of the nonprofit.

To let area residents know about the project, the group is sponsoring a fundraising and informational event at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ramada Plaza Suites in Fargo. The event, “Conversation, Coffee & Dessert,” also features a silent auction, with bidding starting at 6:30 p.m.

Glenn Urlacher, president of Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley, said he and other parents of children with disabilities found out about Farm in the Dell International through The Arc, a local organization that advocates for people with developmental disabilities.

When Urlacher contacted the international organization, he was told there was already someone in Fargo-Moorhead with connections to Farm in the Dell.

That’s how he and the other parents met Streich, and they started Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley’s board last March.

Now the organization is looking at properties that fit its needs and working to raise money, Streich said.

Streich said the plan is for the farm’s residents to raise crops and some animals as pets. Depending on the land’s layout, the residents’ needs and the group’s resources, the farm may also have greenhouses or other features, he said.

Some of the international organization’s other farms have greenhouses and raise chickens and hogs, Streich said.

Farm in the Dell International has locations in Montana, Canada and Kyrgyzstan, according to its website.

Lowell Bartels, CEO and founder of Farm in the Dell International, said Fargo-Moorhead will be a good place for the organization’s next farm.

“It’s a gracious community that I think would be very accepting of it,” said Bartels, who is based in Montana. He’ll be in Fargo to speak at Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley’s event on Thursday.

Bartels and Streich emphasized that Farm in the Dell is important for a farm’s residents and for its surrounding community.

“It shows communities that people who are developmentally disabled can work, want to work and don’t want to just exist,” Bartels said. Working gives them a sense of purpose, he said.

Farmwork is good for people with developmental disabilities, Bartels said.

“When they work with the land and farm animals, they feel better,” he said.

Urlacher and Streich say they are excited to bring that opportunity to people in Fargo-Moorhead.

Urlacher hopes his own child will be able to live and work at the Moorhead farm, but said “it’s bigger than just our child.”

When people apply to live at Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley, they’ll likely be reviewed by management, Urlacher said. The board also wants jobs at the farm to be open to people with developmental disabilties people who don’t live there, Streich said.

Urlacher said the goal is to have a property in a year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311